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1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2

Coping with Grief

The clinical definition of dealing with grief is that everyone deals with grief is different. How long you grieve is also different with each person. The biggest word of advice is don’t try to hold it in, don’t try to be strong. It is better to let go and cry. There is no time limit on how long you should grieve. Don’t pay attention to other people telling you to : “Get over it and move on.” Don’t listen to: “You need to get back to work and get busy so you can get over it. “ One health care professional advice is if your grief after an extended period of time interrupts your daily life and leads to depression seek professional help. I will later in this article share my experiences of grief with you.  I will not list every one of my lifetime grief’expirences they are too many, but the ones I think are the most significant.  How I reacted to them and what I did so that maybe it may be of some help to anyone reading this. One thing that is most important Do not turn to drugs nor alcohol to cope with grief.   All that does is dull your senses and cover up your feelings.  By turning to substances you are not coping with grief but running from it.

The first thing you may feel is great sadness. A hollow feeling. A tremendous loss. The passing of your loved one will seem unreal.  Now the next clinical definition, I do not experience because of my awe and fear of God. You may even become angry at God.  I personally have asked God why did a particular person die?  But not necessarily anger, hurt, dissapointment. You may start thinking:  Am I going to be next to die?  You become keenly aware of your own mortality. You may gain weight or lose weight.  If you keep thinking about that person being alive or coming back to life or not accepting that they have died.  You may also experience depression if that happens seek professional help.

My First Grief Losing my Grandpa

My first experience of losing a family member in death was my grandfather, my Mom’s dad, I was 4 years old. My grandfather was not a constant daily presence in my young life.  He came to live with my family when he became ill, the last days of his life.  I knew grandpa was sick being a young child I did not understand how ill he was.  I though he had a bad cold and he was going to get better.  He had a really bad cough and he coughed a lot.   When he coughed I whished I could do something to make him better.  While he lived with us we, my siblings and I, all 5 of us came to love him more.  We had a chance to spend time with him. When my older brothers teased me, my grandpa was my refuge. I would run to him crying. He would yell in his big booming voice at my older brothers:  "Stop messing with my baby." When he took really sick and was taken to the hospital, I remember waiting in the car with my Dad while Mom went up to the hospital room where my Grandfather was. I knew I was too little to go and see him. It seemed like a long time.  I’m sure now it wasn’t.  Mom came out, got in the car and said to my Dad:  “James, he is gone.” I knew immediately that she meant that Grandpa had died.  They thought they were talking in code.  I felt like my throat was closing up and a knot formed in my stomach. I felt sick and a great sadness came over me. What do we do now?  I was overwhelmed what do we do next?  This was too big for me.  Mom and Dad did not cry so I did not cry.  Dad silently started up the green Chevy, put it in gear we went home. I went off by myself while Mom told the rest of my siblings that grandpa had died. I had this overwhelming feeling of sadness a feeling I had never expirenced before.  I did not like this feeling.  Mom was there.  Dad was there.  My brothers and my sister was there so it was ok.  They did not cry so everything was going to be ok I guess.

Over the next day or so I remember Mom hustling around trying to find a suitable suit for Grandpa. I was curious why she needed a suit I just waited and watched to see what she was doing.  Mom and Dad was busy getting things ready for Grandpa. Then the day of the funeral I saw Grandpa in the casket with the suit on.  Grandpa looked so nice in his suit.  I looked up at Mom and over at Dad they were not crying , so I did not cry either.  It was so hard not to cry, wanted to.  I looked up at Mom again, then I got this bright Idea.  I thought if I ask Mom for some paper to draw on that would occupy my attention and make I easier for me not to cry. Mom hushed me up. Ok, so that was not such a good idea.  I sat there staring at Grandpa, I could not hold back the tears any longer, they slowly streamed down my face.  It was too hard to sit there and look at Grandpa laying there in the casket not moving.  I would never hear his big booming voice again. I would never get anymore hugs from Grandpa, he was gone.  Back at home after the funeral, even the house seemed like it missed grandpa.  Even with all of us in it the house it seemed empty without grandpa.  I had Mom, Dad and my 3 brothers and my sister after a while it did not hurt so much.  I thought about Grandpa now and then.    . . .You never forget a loved one.

Preparing for Grief

I added this paragraph when actually it is a misnomer. When my parents became of the age that I am now, I saw their friends and relatives began to die as the years passed one by one.  I watched how my parents handled it. I saw Dad tell my Mom: “Well, Joe passed.” I saw my Dad grieve, he took it well which is actually an understatement. He held it in. He did not lose it crying. Dad being the old school type man held in his tears. I stored how my parents reacted in my data base, my brain as a footnote for future reference to be aware of this when I become their age sometime in the future. This was so that I would not be so shocked when I started losing loved ones in the future. This was for the purpose when I achieve their age I will be better prepared to handle grief. I will know what to expect. It will not surprise me when a loved one or a coworker or friend dies. Even if my friend or loved one died at an early age. I was never looking around at who I thought would die next in my lifetime no matter how ill a person I knew had become. Sudden accidental death is the most difficult to deal with.

You cannot really prepare for grief. It is difficult to lose a loved one. Losing a loved one in death hurts. Cry, let it out, don't hold back the tears. Death is a cold final separation from that loved one.  If you are rooted and grounded in your Christian faith you know it is not the ultimate end. If you do not have a church home after losing a loved one then that is a good time to find one.  Finding a good clergy or a good church home is a good way to help you to deal with your grieving process.

Losing My Mom

Since that time many years have passed. I lost a beloved uncle, my Mom's only brother. A much loved and renown pastor, Bishop S.N. Hancock  who had also married my parents.  He was a part of our family when our family started.  Incidentally my mom named her first born and last born sons after him using his first and middle names.  I had lost several close friends, coworkers of whom I will not go into details about. Next I will go to someone close to me and dear to my heart.

Losing My Mom.  

When My Mom died I was an adult, employed in my own apartment and engaged.  I was 32 years old. She passed in 1984.  My Mom was 61 years really not old enough to die yet.  I will not go into the details of her illness but of her passing and how I handled it.  My Mom took ill in 1981 being a faith based family God actually gave her 3 more years to prepare us for her passing. When Mom passed we had prayed hoped God would heal her and give us many more years with us. I became a basket case I was sprawled across a table in the hospital family room crying hysterically.  Our assistant pastor who came to comfort the family gently comforted me and calmed me down and told me to it’s ok to cry but not so hard like that. I could make myself sick by doing so. With my Mom dying this was the first time I actually saw my Dad ever cry.  My Mom was too young to die.  I never voiced this statement out loud.   My son who was 11 years old at the time was the only one who actually voiced this at the family viewing of my Mom's body: " Bubba was too young to die" then he collapsed, crying into his grandfathers arms.  To make long story short After the funeral, I did spiral into depression. My general practitioner prescribed an antidepressant medication for me. It actually made me feel normal I was only on the medication for a short period of time.

I went right back into my daily routine after my Mom passed, I returned to work, planned my wedding without my office even knowing I was planning a wedding. I was still young and resilient, my job was not as stressful as when my father died as you will see when you read further. One note to others/coworkers. I had a coworker who made a faux paus while I was off work for my mother's funeral. We each had about 300 or so client caseload back then. When I returned to work a coworker of mine ( brightly told me ) unthinking I guess, it seemed my entire caseload of clients that I was off work for my mother's funeral. We did not have a personal relationship with our clients it was strictly prohibited. We were never on a first name basis with our clients. If we were assigned a client by chance that we knew personally or was related to, that client’s case had to be transferred out of the office so as not to create what could become a nepotism situation. As I went to the interviewing area each one of my clients that I serviced after my Mom's funeral greeted me with I'm sorry to hear about your mom. All day long every day in person or on the phone, day after day. It became too much. I wanted to go about my daily work routine and grieve quietly and in private. We service a neighborhood, our clients knew each other. I got testy and started telling my clients: “ Thank you, you did not know my Mother.” I had had enough after a while and went home early that day. I could not take it any more. Before I left the office to go home, I snapped! I went back to my desk and told the coworker do not share any of my personal information with my clients! I would never tell your personal information to your clients! I am not personal friends with any of these clients! Do not tell any of my clients if I went to the dentist or doctor or why I am off work ever again, just say I am not in!  Do not ever give my clients any more of my personal information, my whereabouts or what I am doing when I am not at work!  When I came back to work the next work day I guess when I got testy with my last client it stopped, the clients must have told each other not to say anything more about my mom.  Maybe my coworker when she fielded my calls in my absence told my clients not to mention anything about my mother dying, ha I doubt it.

As the years passed,  I had so many questions I needed to ask my Mom . . . about life  and growing older as a woman . . .  Mom was loving, a lovely Mom and lady.  Mom was fun.  I loved my Mom.  She loved us!  I miss my Mom.  I would have loved to have had at least 25 more years with her, then she would have lived to be 86.  At any age it's even a great age it hurts to lose a loved one.  If your loved one live to what we call a ripe old age we accept it a little better.  We often tell oursleves:  "They lived a full life." 

Death is always painful to the loved ones left behind. ~ Sharon ~

When Dad Left Us

When my father passed in 2009, he lived to the ripe old age of 92. We again would have loved to have him around for a few more years. Dad was tired, he had out lived our Mom. He remarried. He out lived his second wife. He wanted to go. He became ill with age. The funeral was on Thursday. After the funeral we siblings and our children hung out together from that Friday on. Two of my sisters flew in from out of town we hung out with them as long as they could stay in town as a support with each other.

I was at a stressful job when my father passed. I went right back to work the following Monday after the funeral.  I really did not take the time to grieve his passing. The job was so demanding I felt like I had to get back to work to catch up on my work.  I walked around like a zombie doing my job.  I was numb.  I believe because I rushed back to work five months later I had my first episode of blacking out on the job, from stress. Then blacked out again three months later.  I fell struck my head on my desk suffered a concussion.  I went out on a medical leave of absence. Six weeks after being on medical I realized I was not able to return to work.  I retired at the end of the year. After I decided to retire it took over a year for me to recover from the concussion.  I believe my father's passing, me not working through the grieving process properly the extremely stressful job was not healthy and lead to my blackout spells.

Five Stages of Grief

I've included this as a guideline not a hard and fast rule.   Don't make chart and stick it on the wall to guide yourself through the grieving process.  It's just to allow you to know that it's OK to grieve you do not have to "be strong".

1. Denial and Isolation.  2. Anger  3. Bargaining  4. Depression   5. Acceptance

These are the stages of Grief.  Losing my sister is the most recent grief I've gone through. I can easily recognize the stages.  I will describe my personal feelings as I went through the stages.

My sister lived in Tulsa Ok when I got word she passed I told my husband in tears. Then I withdrew and later did not allow him to see me cry. I withdrew into myself.  He recognized my feelings, asked if I was OK, gave me my space to grieve. I was not able to participate in my usual meetings at church. One of the meetings was postponed from the day of my sisters funeral to the following Sunday. On that Sunday I still was not able to attend. I did not go through the angry stage but I did asked God why he did he not heal my sister when we prayed for her. Why did he allow her to die at this time? As of this writing it is nineteen days since my sisters passing. I pretty much since I am retired I do not feel like doing my jewelry business. I am not inspired to make any of my jewelry pieces. I would not say I am experiencing depression.  I have worked on my web site building this page though.  You do not necessarily have to go through each stage in this order in the grieving process as long as you reach acceptance as the final stage.

When our Sister Passed Away

Now onto my recent loss as of this writing. My sister who passed away Feb. 2, 2011. She was 64 certainly not old enough to die in my scheme of thinks. Being retired now for a year I'd say I am 80% recovered from the stress of my old job. I found myself experiencing feelings, real normal feelings of grief.   Going through the normal steps of the grieving process. It was almost scary is the best way I can describe it.  The feelings were more intense than I expected them to be is a better way to describe it.  It is like I am alive again and I can have emotions and feelings again!  I was deeply hurt and sadden by my sisters passing.  I was imagining trips I would plan to take with her when she decided to retire, now it will never happen.  She too had become ill and succumbed to her illness.  It was a hard blow to the rest of us 6 siblings.  In my earlier writing it was 5 siblings. Mom and Dad had a total of 7 children.  With my sister passing it is now 6 of us alive.  My sister was the second born child of my parents.  I am number 5.  There are 2 more born after me.

Even though I became a basket case like when I lost my mom. I thought handled this better now than I did then. It is hard. I did not want to believe she had passed until her body was shipped to Michigan. When I saw her body for the first time at the funeral home, I broke down and cried, the face did not look like my sister. Until then I wanted to believe the hospital made a mistake and my sister was still in the hospital sick. But wait no, her children were there with her when she was pronounced dead. We examined her body, the hands looked like hers. Maybe they sent the wrong body and they still have my sister in the hospital.  No, her children were there when she passed.  I felt hollow inside.  It is a deep pain like a knife wound.  It is like something has been surgically removed from inside of me.  I did not get angry with God realizing God does not make mistakes.  I just asked him why? I had several questions of God and I feel I received adequate answers to my questions. My sister suffered long enough and now she is no longer suffering. The pain of losing her has to heal.  It takes time for the wound of losing a loved one to heal.  How long?  It is an individual thing.

 After my sister passed my siblings, her daughters and cousins, we spent a lot of time together supporting each other which made the start of the healing process extremely helpful. Family time is good for healing, working through the grieving process.

2/25/11: I am dating this as a footnote. This will be a timeless notation but, as time goes on this stage will become past tense. I am having a difficult time wrapping my brain around the fact that my sister is gone. There are more dynamics involved than the fact that I miss her. When someone goes on a trip and leave you behind you miss that person, they will be back. When you plan to meet someone for lunch and you were late, they left, you miss them.  For me my feelings are deeper than, I miss her.

A series of prescribed travel treatment plans were disrupted because of my sisters condition when we became aware of the seriousness of her illness. My siblings and I made plans to go and visit her immediately. The snow storm of the century developed which prevented us from traveling to where she was. The incredible thing about the storm was it affected 33 states across the country. God is always in control! (I believe, no doubt had we all been able to travel to where my sister was. Gathered by my sister's bed side God would have heard us pray in a cooperate prayer and headed our united cry! "Where there are two or three gathered ..." It would have been 4 siblings as well as her children all together at my sister's bedside, praying. There is strength in numbers ) But God wanted our sister at that time. Her children told her we were coming and was excited about it! But we never made it. The weather which was beyond our control. The weather prevented us from traveling by any means (All means of travel there were cancellations or travel was blocked; roads, rail or air.) There were weather warnings and Local Road commission broadcast notifications not to travel to Oklahoma! Our destination!. We delayed our plans until the end of the week when the roads were passable to travel. Our sister passed in the middle of the week in the midst of the stormy weather. In all our efforts, in all of our best laid plans we will never again get a chance to see our sister in this life. It is final! I am coming to terms that my sister is gone because God said so. I have to accept that. Amen!

When My Husband Lost his Brother

My husband lost a sibling also, his brother in 2009 his brother was only 55 when he passed. He succumbed to an unexpected illness. I will only deal with the grieving process with my husband as he told it to me. It is more difficult to lose a sibling than one can imagine until you go through that experience. If you grew up with your sibling they are with you either from your day one or their day one. It is so different that losing a parent. Yes your parent gave birth to you they raised you, your sibling grew with you. There is a difference. It really makes you aware of your own mortality. My brother-in-law's death was hard on my husband as hard as I see now my sister for me. My brother-in-law was way to young to die! He had retired on a disability from his job sometime back. Even still he died way to young.

My husband's circumstances that followed his brothers death were different for him than my sister because of the events that transpired afterwards. My husband was not afforded to have a what I would call a normal grieving process. My brother had no wife nor did he have any children. My husband became the fiduciary of my brother-in-law’s estate. It became a tedious drawn out process with multiple court dates completing paper work and reporting inventory and assets, which took a year for the process to be completed. The process became so intense that it actually took it's toll on my husbands health with him having to go to the hospital and spend time in urgent care. I will not go into the actual details of the health issues that my husband surffered but it was directly caused by stress. For on entire year he was actively dealing with his brother's affairs. So as you guessed it took my husband a year to go through the grieving process of his brother’s death.

Handling Grief

The best way to handle grief is to pray to our Lord and Savoiur Jesus Christ. Make sure you get your proper rest. Eat a balanced diet. Drink plenty of fluids, non alcoholic drinks. Spend time with your loved ones. If your funds permit, go out to Eat with your family, do it often. No one will feel up to cooking. Try to be with each other for at least, I’d say one week to 10 days after the funeral of your dearly departed.  I do hope you have that type of relationship with your family and there was not a lot of arguing or bickering over stuff over who gets what and she/he left this to me not you.

If you think you don't have anything, if you could, you would be surprised to see your relatives fighting over your stuff after you died.

Word to the wise: If you are reading this, now is a good time to start writing your will.   Put it in writing exactly what you want left to whom so there will not be any arguing among your family as to who gets what. Don’t toss it in a closet or desk drawer. Get it notarized, filed or whatever  is required in the area where you live.

Acceptance

"9 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten." Ecclesiastes :5

To my fellow Christians If you choose to visit the burial site of your deceased loved one, do so for the purpose of making sure that the grounds are being maintained. If you have purchased the maintenance package it would behoove you to check to see if it is being maintained. Even if you have not purchased the maintenance package, it is in your right to request them to clear over grown grass from the headstone of the plot of your deceased loved one. 

DO NOT GO TO YOUR LOVED ONE/ MOMMA'S OR YOU DAD'S GRAVE SITE TO TALK OR PRAY TO THEM. THE BIBLE STRICTLY FORBIDS US TO TALK OR PRAY TO THE DEAD!

Do not allow yourself to be fooled by anyone, Fortune teller, psychic reader or the like tell you that your deceased relative is telling you anything, That is a big lie from the pit. There are familiar sprits, demons that have followed your relatives their entire life not your relatives doing the talking.  (See the bible verse above) Once the loved on passes on they know no more.  The are no longer concious.  I'm sorry, they are not somewhere looking down on us watching.   

11"Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer." Deuteronomy 18:11

Another thing I have seen people do in innocence to honour a deceased relative.  It may look harmless and even special but it is not!   That is getting a tatto of the decased person.  Do not get a tatto of a likeness of your loved one!  God hates it!

 28"Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD."  Leviticus 19:28 

After you have accepted that your loved one is gone weeks or even months down the road, something may trigger a sad thought and you may shed a few tears or well up it's ok. As long as it does not teleport you back to grieving as if your loved one has just passed away. That is not healthy.  Seek professional help.  Talk to your local clergy and/or your local health care professional.

Just remember, this too shall pass ~Sharon~